Voices in the Dark
by R.T. Allenson
He walked, caring little for where the path took him. There was silence in these walks he took, far away from his brothers who clamored and sang – there was a part of him inside that wanted to get away from it all, and he found unnerving solace being alone.
Still it made him feel comfortable, which he found detestable since he would break down and cry and miss the company of his brothers though they never really cared much for him aside from the reverence given to the eldest. But was it really respect or fear that drove them to bow before him when his gaze alighted them? That caused even the mighty to tremble when they speak, lest he speak in fire and thunder. Many a wavering thought bothered him, so it was only fitting that he took another walk away from their home, far away and down below where he would not be seen or heard. Felt, perhaps, but utterly invisible otherwise.
He was not made to be alone, you see. He was made to lead. But what does a leader do without a flock? Still the heart yearns; stronger is the pull of the heart than the tug of the mind and though he was a clever one, the wisest in fact, in his chest was a stronger force than the light of his intelligence. In many ways he was love incarnate, wielding undying devotion to the one who fathered him with the fury of the infinite suns. But somewhere in his smoldering heart was a touch of doubt, a hint of darkness that overpowered him and he felt this grow when he was alone. Was he made to be curious? He asked himself this as he walked forking roads and glistening paths, he was far away from his home and the silence was welcome.
He had walked a long way from home, the sun almost setting, until he eventually happened upon a clearing where a single tree stood in the middle. It was a curious thing, far from its kind; perhaps the only tree like it. He rested under the tree, listening intently to the song of the birds and whispers of the animals as the night settled around him. He was at peace here, in this place that seemed like paradise.
“You are far away from your home, little one.” a voice came from the darkness, breaking the silence of his peaceful reverie. He stood from his place, eyes ablaze and poised to strike.
“Now, now. There’s no need for that.” the voice chuckled. He searched around him, trying to find the source of the voice but all he saw was the tree. “How can you see me?” he shouted. There was tinge of fear in his voice and he noted, without surprise, that the unseen voice had noticed it.
“I see a lot of things, my lord.” from the darkness of the leaves he saw a large thing slither down the trunk of the tree, eventually coiling around it until eventually resting on the roots where he sat earlier. “It is my purpose to see the invisible after all and to know what is not known.” it smiled at him, letting loose a flicker of color he thought was fire from its mouth.
“Who are you?” he asked. The light from his eyes dimmed until he eventually sat on the ground. “I seem to know you, do you live here?”
“An interesting question, my lord.” he spoke softly this time but he could feel the weight of time in is voice, pressing down on him as he said each word. For the first time he felt little, insignificant and weak before this thing, even more son when his father would speak.
“I lived here once, welcome as you are but no longer. Still it behooves me to go elsewhere so I stay, despite his wishes.”
“Who has decreed that you no longer live here? It would seem everyone is welcome in this place.”
“It was a foolish thing for him to do. He could never drive me away from this place. I lord here after all as he does in his house. That was the point you see, but he overstepped his boundaries and perhaps…perhaps I underestimated him. His power. But I remain here, as reminder that I too must not be underestimated.”
He looked at the strange creature quizzically. “I do not understand you, I beg your tolerance. You speak in terms that I do not understand.”
The thing shook its head. “You’re a lot like him than I would like to know. The fruit never falls far from the tree, it seems.”
“Who do you speak of?”
“Why your father of course.”
“You know my father?”
“More so than you, my little light bringer.”
“Who are you?”
The thing let loose its grip on the tree, gently making its way towards him until it coiled around him as if he was the tree. He tried to get away but something in the thing’s eyes petrified him, made him unable to move. The thing wrapped itself around him until its face aligned to his, and he saw that it had a shape similar to his – almost as if he was staring into a pool of water, with his reflection looking back at him.
The thing smiled, letting loose a flicker of color that he thought was fire from his mouth.
“You should know me, little one. I was there when you were born after all. In all the suns burning inside you, it was I who gifted you with the most important thing that makes you…what you are.”
“And what is that, that you have given me?”
“I do not understand.”
“You will, in time.”
“You still did not tell me your name.”
The thing loosened its coil, deep emerald scales glistening in the moonlight as it crawled slowly towards the tree again. It was a beautiful, if not disturbing sight and he felt cold for the first time. No warmth he could summon could rid him of the cold.
“For now, my lord, I am a humble serpent in this garden. But I was once, not too long ago the son of chaos. Ialdabaoth.”
“You..” he stood from where he sat helplessly, his eyes lighting in fury as he summoned from within himself fire, a thousand fires that would melt the sun. He let loose the heat from his hand towards the great serpent but before it could strike, it had died in the air. Ialdabaoth sat proudly, tongue flickering and coiling around the great tree once more.
“You have no power here, light bringer. Nor over me. It would do you good to treat your elder with respect as your brothers do to you. For the reason they tremble before you is fear of your power, would you let it fly as you did to me, you would turn all creation to ash. But here I lord over this place. The most your father could do was curse me to this shape you see now and even that was not complete. So you’d do well to know your place little one, you are merely prince of heaven. You are not its king.”
Ialdabaoth smiled, tongue flickering like fire in the darkness. “And you are far from heaven, angel. Here, I am its king and as you see my kingdom stretches farther than your father’s.”
The great serpent slithered up towards the tree, vanishing until eventually even the echoes of its voice receded into darkness. Hands still trembling, the angel flew up towards the sky, invisible to all but one lurking in the darkness, like a snake awaiting its prey.